Opening—11 Nov 2023 6–8:30 pm
We are happy to announce the second solo exhibition of the Munich-based artist Ruscha Voormann in our Berlin gallery. Under the title Polar, Voormann is showing large- and medium-format works on canvas in which she explores the boundaries between chance and calculation in abstract painting, thereby developing a completely independent visual language.
Supposed pairs of opposites that are mutually dependent and essentially belong together can only be explained through their relationship to one another. Different poles in painting can thus only be delineated by defining them in a value-free way: brightness can only be grasped in contrast to darkness, cold colors can only be understood in relation to warm colors, reflective surfaces can only be understood through the experience of matt surfaces. These and other opposites, which make painting tangible in its entirety, directly determine Ruscha Voormann’s painting.
In her exhibition Polar, the artist is showing three groups of works: Reflection, Routine, and Formation. The title of the exhibition itself not only refers to the polarity in painting, which the artist explores in her work, but is also a reference to the main color that has appeared in Voormann’s pictorial worlds since January 2023: polar white, a bluish white that seems cold at first glance and that dominates the new series on display here.
The Reflection series contains works in which Voormann perhaps gives chance the most leeway. By pushing two sheets of Plexiglas against each other with acrylic paint in between, a contrasting pair is created when the two sheets are separated, each of which is connected independently of the other with a canvas. In the titles, the pairs belonging to each other are called “poles.”
Voormann places her polar white “line structure” on the glass with the same precision and deliberation as the random surfaces that are now held between the canvas and the Plexiglas. The reflective surface of the glass is refracted by the matt paint applied to it. Light contrasts with dark, the randomness of the structure, the reflection with the non-reflective surfaces. In addition to these contrasts, a third level can be conceived: the movement or reflection of the viewer in the work changes the painting anew each time. They always give rise to a different image that can only be experienced subjectively.
The Routine series comprises works that are initially based on Voormann’s typical juxtaposed lines. Polar white and dark stripes give support to the presumed, freer forms underneath and create a soft, overlying grid structure—almost as if one were trying to recognize the painting lying behind fogged glass. New in this series are graphic, flowing structures, mostly made up of set pieces of circles, which are sometimes connected with lines. These initially digitally generated lines, painted poetically yet clearly with soft color gradients, interweave with the underlying layers: the foreground, background, and middle ground are inseparably united and yet form a common field of tension on the canvas.
The third group of works shown here, Formation, dissolves the poles of black and (polar) white with a less contrasting color palette. Gentler transitions emerge and graphic formations are formed that are reminiscent of Cubism. The lines of the pencil sketch remains recognizable on the canvas in places, while the movement of the painter’s roller and in particular the brush used here heighten the random moment. Although the forms now left on the canvas originate from very deliberate preliminary drawings, they merge into a unity. The visible brushstrokes as well as the pencil lines give the viewer more direct access to Voormann’s painting.
All the works are not about antagonisms in which one component “outshines” the other, but rather about parallel, equally significant contrasts that grow together. Visual fields of tension are created through the design as well as the interweaving of the different layers of paint that allow the viewer to discover new elements in the pictures time and again. In this way, different poles can only be thought of together and can only be explained and understood through the existence of the other pole.
Ruscha Voormann was born in Flensburg in 1992 and lives in Munich, where she studies at the Academy of Fine Arts under Gregor Hildebrandt. Although she has only been working as an artist for four years, she can already look back on over 30 solo and group exhibitions, including shows in Berlin, Vienna, New York, Madrid, Munich, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Cologne.